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About the author:
Belinda Meyers lives with her husband and cubs in the Hill Country of Central Texas.
What inspired you to write your book?
I love paranormal romance and wanted to put my own stamp on it.
Here is a short sample from the book:
“Hold your gun straight! I hear something!”
Alice cringed and lifted her rifle higher, its butt pressed against her shoulder just like Pa had taught her. Her heart beat fast, and she could feel her limbs trembling.
This is wrong, she thought. This is all wrong.
“There!” said Bradley, eyeing a device that looked like a compass. It wasn’t, of course, but something far more sinister—at least in his hands. He indicated a direction, and the three of them inched toward a rise, then peered over it.
The forest loomed in all directions, green and lush and beautiful, with massive shaggy conifers arching toward the blue sky and filling the air with the scent of pine. Alice wished she were here alone, or at least with someone else. Anyone but her deranged, homicidal family.
“I see it,” said Pa, using his angry whisper; Alice was all too familiar with that tone. His craggy face bunched up in hate, his rheumy dark eyes squinting. The rifle he carried rose, and he sighted along its barrel.
Alice scanned the forest, holding her breath, then saw it: a huge grizzly bear, gray-brown and scarred and massive, lumbering through a glade in the woods. Her heart almost stopped in her chest. It’s beautiful, she thought. Can it really be … one of THEM? According to Bradley’s “compass”, it was. The device only detected shifters, at least according to the self-styled witch they’d bought it off of at the flea market last month.
“Abomination,” Pa whispered as he squinted one eye completely, peering down the sight of the barrel with the other. “Demon.”
“Hellspawn,” Bradley agreed. He was Alice’s older brother, and she was all too used to his and her pa’s hatred of all things shifter. Ever since the supes had come out of the den a few years ago, the two men had become manic in their single-minded devotion to the idea of destroying them. This was their first chance to act on it. “Let’s send it back to hell,” Bradley added, and Alice could hear the longing in his voice. He craved violence, she could tell. It made her wonder if he’d ever done this before. This was her first time, and she knew it was Pa’s, too.
Pa nodded, still taking aim. “I’ve got ‘im,” he said. “I’ve got ‘im in my sights.” His finger curled around the trigger, and Alice had to fight the urge to jump on him and wrestle the gun away.
Maybe I should, she thought. Maybe I—
Pa paused. Lifting his lean, wrinkled face, his rheumy eyes settled on Alice.
She felt a chill. “What is it, Pa?”
“You,” he said. “You should take the shot.”
“Me?” She felt her mouth fall open.
“She’s right,” said Bradley. “If it ain’t you, Pa, it should be me that does it.”
“No.” Pa shook his head adamantly. “You I’m sure of. Alice here is the weak link. If we’re gonna start doin’ this regular like we planned, start our march on the holy crusade, we need to firm her up.”
Reluctantly, Bradley nodded. “Alright, Pa.” He looked at Alice and spat out a gob of tobacco juice. “Well, whatcha waitin’ for, Sis? Take the shot!”
They had been speaking in low tones, but when Alice turned back to the glade she saw that the bear had lifted its enormous, handsome head in their direction. He was so majestic it made her heart ache to look at him. He appeared to have heard them. His hearing must be ridiculously sensitive.
“Well?” Pa demanded. “Git goin’! Wait too long and he’ll bolt—or come fer us.”
She made herself square her shoulders and raise her rifle. Took it off safety. Made sure there was a bullet in the chamber. Aimed, sighting along the barrel, centering her sights on the shaggy breast of the gorgeous, scarred, tough-looking bear.
“Do it!” Bradley said.
Alice’s fingers trembled. Her breaths came fast and shallow.
“Now!” said her pa.
She felt her eyes burn. Don’t cry, she thought. Don’t let them see your weakness.
In the glade, the bear lowered its head and began to turn away.
“It’s leavin’!” Pa said, spittle spraying from his lips. “Do it or I will, you stupid cow!”
Something dawned on her. If you could’ve, you old codger, you would’ve. It was his eyes, she thought. He hadn’t thought he could see well enough to take the shot, so he’d come up with the only excuse he could think of. Gotta firm her up, ha. Well, she would show him who was firm.
She lowered the rifle. “No,” she said. She’d meant her voice to sound bold and dramatic, but she thought it came out as more of a squeak.
“No?” said Bradley. His square face turned as red as his hair. “No?”
“That’s right,” she said. “I won’t do it.”
“Bah!” Pa snarled. Before she could stop him, he raised his own rifle and fired. The shot sounded like a bomb going off in the stillness of the forest, and a flock of birds exploded out of a tree and fluttered off into the sky, startled by the sound.
The bear had reached the edge of the clearing, but now it paused. For a wild moment hope flooded Alice’s chest. He missed! she thought. The blind old possum missed! Then she saw the blood staining the animal’s fur and running down its shoulder. Her heart wrenched, and her eyes burned worse than before.
“Ha!” said Bradley, pumping a fist into the air. He jumped to his feet and tugged Pa up, too. Alice rose more gingerly.
“Is he still standing?” Pa said, shading his bad eyes with one frail hand. Alice thought she detected a tremor in it.
“Yeah, Pa,” Bradley said. “Just one more shot to finish him.” He tried to wrench Alice’s gun away from her; there were only two guns. She fought him, holding onto it tight. He yanked harder, but she pulled back.
“I won’t—let you—kill him!” she said through gritted teeth.
Bradley swore and let go, and she flew backward, landing in an ungainly heap on her rump—which, as Bradley and Pa had both pointed out many times, was generous. She wasn’t tall, but she was big-boned. No point in you goin’ ta college, Pa had told her often. You’re too fat to meet a fella, and what’s the use of a girl goin’ to college if not to meet a fella?
“Shoot ‘im again!” Bradley urged Pa.
Grumbling under his breath, Pa raised his rifle and took aim again. In the clearing, the bear was listing to one side and shaking his head. Blood gushed freely from his wound. Sudden concern tore through Alice, and she shoved herself back to her feet, desperate to stop this. But what could she do?
Inspiration seized her.
Pa, blind as he was, would need a few moments to aim. That might give her time to do what she needed to do. Feeling sweat pop out on her forehead and scalp, she pelted down the incline of the rise, trees flashing past her.
“What’re you doin’?” Bradley called after her. “Pa, she’s gone mad!”
“Stupid cow!” Pa called. “Get back here or you’ll git shot!”
She kept going. A root reached for her feet, but she leapt over it, stumbled, stayed upright and kept running. Ahead, the bear was sinking to its knees. A shaft of sunlight shone down on it, illuminating gnats and pollen drifting in the currents of the air, and making the bear’s blood almost seem to glow. It looked so red it was surreal. Alice felt like she was in a dream.
“Git down, you fool!” her Pa shouted behind her. “You’re in the line of fire!”
As if she didn’t know that. For once in her life, though, she knew she was doing the right thing. Even if it did get her killed.
He won’t shoot, she told herself. He won’t!
The horrible thing was that she wasn’t sure.
Panting, she reached the bear and dropped to her knees beside it … just as it Shifted. As soon as she reached it, it collapsed to the ground and seemed to lose consciousness. When it did, the air—maybe reality itself—seemed to shimmer around it, and the bear changed, slipping forms, and in seconds it was no longer a bear at all but a man, gorgeous and naked, with a mane of flowing dark hair that trailed halfway down his thick neck and rugged-looking stubble on his square jaw. Blood pumped from a hole in his upper chest or lower shoulder, down over his right arm to the grass.
“Dear God,” Alice heard herself whisper. He was amazing, all gleaming muscles and unbridled power. But now helpless and defenseless.